Education Skills Strategy

Education Skills Strategy

Problem: Enormous number of students leaving Unis with unwanted qualifications and unable to find gainful employment. I dont accept that this is all just 'personal choice' as many are quickly disillusioned with their choices later on. The Unis have taken a 'bums on seats' attitude ie more students = more funding = success Meanwhile we are still struggling to fill many crucial skill sets Why not have a taskforce that identifies essential skills over the next 10/20/30 years and begin to target funding accordingly. If someone studies in a vital area then they should get free education whilst some qualifications would unfortunately go up in price. People would still have choice, but faced with an economic consequence many students might change their study options for a better future instead of just regretting it later on. It would certainly be an imporvement on a system where the unis are just trying to funnel people into those degrees that have the lowest cost or the most available seats.

Showing 12 reactions

  • James Maclaurin
    commented 2016-12-14 09:23:36 +1300
    Duncan – we all think that our own disciplines are particularly exacting and important. People with arts degrees have successful lives and jobs they enjoy and they contribute significantly to the economies in which they work. There is plenty of evidence for this. See for example “Humanities Graduates and the British Economy: The Hidden Impact” (2013). A copy of the report is available here…

    Could people learn history, politics, ethics, public policy etc online? I’m sure the followers of Mr Trump think they learned a lot about such subjects online but learning by Googling is a pretty dangerous game as discussed at length in this article…

    As to whether Humanities subjects could be taught online in a more formal way—There is a lot of research into the effectiveness of online teaching at the moment, mostly due the rise of MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses). The effectiveness is low and completion rates are terrible. The main problem is that it is very difficult to get algorithms to effectively assess student’s work. The only limited exceptions seem to be programming and language learning. That said, I learned javascript online and I’m not sure I’d want an employer to let me loose on anything that was very mission-critical.
  • James Maclaurin
    commented 2016-12-13 17:05:46 +1300
    If I thought there was good evidence that we are “overproducing in some areas”, I would be with you. But the fact of the matter is that virtually all the graduates of good universities get jobs within a few years of graduation (Otago’s hit rate is 98%) and according to Universities New Zealand, the premium on earnings for plain generalist degrees like the BA is many hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a working life. So I’m not sure what evidence I would cite were I to march up to the door of some university department and say – we’re making too many of your sort of gradiate.

    I agree that there’s a sensible discussion to be had about what employers want. I think this is happening and there is, for example, a lot more intership going on based on recommendations from employment groups. That said, we should recognise that employers want to solve problems they face now and in the next maybe 5 – 10 years. Universities are trying to train young people to succeed in the world of work for the next 45ish years (in which current thinking says they are likely to have many jobs and little funding for retraining) and then in the post work world after that.
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-12-13 16:50:46 +1300
    As far as the “Art v Science” argument is concerned as an engineer there is no competition

    If you want to learn about the arts I am not at all sure that a university is required – you should be able to learn on-line or in your own time

    This is completely different to the STEM subjects where having somebody to explain the non-intuitive concepts and mathematics involved – not to mention the physical resources required does need a university
  • tom greig
    commented 2016-12-13 16:36:06 +1300
    I don’t want this to be a generic battle of arts vs science. The point is that we are over training in some areas and under-training in others and it would be sensible to make better value of 2 valuable resources ie education spending and our youth. It is wrong to suggest that there is no room for improvement and also wrong to suggest that we would just be channeling people into IT. The point is we need to have the discussion.

    My idea was taken from a similar approach used in Singapore and the economic results they are having are world standard.

    The key issue here is that our education outcomes should not be entirely in the hands of 18year olds and academia. We need more input from the marketplace and govt will inevitably have to provide oversight. Meanwhile there are plenty of people out there who are unhappy with their education and career outcomes and many would gladly have had more guidance into a prosperous career.
  • James Maclaurin
    commented 2016-12-12 12:13:10 +1300
    Unfortunately the premise of this argument is false. The idea that there is an “Enormous number of students leaving Unis with unwanted qualifications and unable to find gainful employment” is an urban myth. It sounds like it should be true so it keeps popping up again and again much like the statement by presidential hopeful Marco Rubio that “We need more welders, less philosophers” as “Welders make more money than philosophers” Sounds true, but actuall it’s false. According to Forbes magazine, the average philosophy grad earns 78% more than the average welder (other estimates vary but I haven’t found one that has the welders in front). We’re seeing these sort of claims a lot in NZ at the moment as a result of the current government’s push to get young people to study STEM. This is really a bet on something the government thinks might push up GDP rather like their recent (unsuccessful) bets on oil and gas and on backroom financial services. I’m not aware of any good international longitudinal evidence about the economic benefits of pushing STEM subjects. My own guess (and it is just a guess) is that we might gain some short term benefit from more ICT graduates but that wholesale herding young people into science and away from the humanities is likely to do as much harm as good. Recent work on technological unemployment suggests that jobs resistant to automation will be those that are “people-facing” requiring the so-called soft skills taught in the humanities. For more information you might like to read the following, written by yours truly.
  • James Maclaurin
    tagged this with dislike 2016-12-12 12:13:08 +1300
  • Philip Wilkinson
    commented 2016-12-07 13:12:44 +1300
    Depends a bit on how you see education… I employ staff and even when I am looking for a specialist type person the only thing a degree shows me is a general knowledge and ability to apply themselves for 3 years. I went back to uni and found 2 types of students… those working to get a degree (generally taking the easy route, complete assignments to pass) And people in business (who generally questioned lecturers and assignments were real situations). You need to realize that a majority of students don’t get to work in their chosen area… did you know that every intake into Auckland Law is bigger than the entire number of lawyers in New Zealand? And yet our cream knowing this still choose to take law.
  • Philip Wilkinson
    tagged this with interesting 2016-12-07 13:12:43 +1300
  • duncan cairncross
    commented 2016-12-01 23:13:53 +1300
    A focus on STEM subjects – with an extra subsidy would be a good first step
    We need an alternative method of vocational training – the University model is simply not suitable
  • duncan cairncross
    tagged this with interesting 2016-12-01 23:13:53 +1300
  • Graeme Kiyoto-Ward
    commented 2016-12-01 06:56:13 +1300
    I’m not sure anyone knows what’s going to be important over the next 10/20/30 years. Basically isn’t this saying do vocational training or nothing? There’s a benefit to our society of having people learn arts and humanities. It’s tough competition for fewer jobs in the profession with the rest in the wider job market. Education strategy is probably the single hardest policy to get right because measuring success takes decades. A focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) has helped some countries. Perhaps a focus change.
  • tom greig
    published this page in Suggestions 2016-11-30 22:53:07 +1300